CULTURE

A passage to India: songs, dance and Bollywood meet at Lycabettus

Colorful saris and other traditional garments, furniture, spicy tea and Indian dishes, Bollywood films, fakirs, live Indian music and dancers all the way from Bombay: Tomorrow night, the Lycabettus Theater welcomes India. Visitors will be greeted by a set design resembling an outdoor market, where colorful benches will display all sorts of goods. The public will be able to purchase traditional clothing and pieces of furniture, taste local tea and a variety of platters, watch Bollywood video clips and dance along with Indian dancers who will be mingling with the crowd. The evening will reach a climax with authentic Indian music interpreted by the Musafir ensemble – prominent Greek clarinet player Giorgos Mangas will also perform. Both musicians and dancers, Musafir’s eight fakirs bring the sounds and colors of Rajasthan (an Indian province and ancient home to gypsies) to life. Their songs speak about the life of the Rajasthanis. Hamid Khan, the ensemble’s founder and artistic director, is from Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur. Following the family tradition (his father and ancestors were also musicians of popular and traditional Indian music) Khan decided to present his traditional musical heritage in 1991, thus giving birth to Musafir. Every member of the ensemble has a special vocal gift, while they also dance and play the flute. Two members of the ensemble, Langas and Manganiar, are prominent traveling poets, singing a vast repertoire of ancient Rajasthani tunes. On their colorful rugs, placed in the center of the marketplace, Musafir will present a production combining ancient elements with contemporary special effects: Men with mustaches dressed as women will weave the androgynous myth, as their grace will surpass that of the beautiful women accompanying them. After the cobra dance, clarinet virtuoso Giorgos Mangas and his musicians will go on stage to improvise jazz, popular Greek and ethnic tunes, as well as partake in a musical conversation with his Indian counterparts. India has become quite fashionable in the last few years: Bollywood film tributes, Bollywood nights – featuring Indian fashions – Indian songs hitting the charts, but also collaborations between Greek soloists and Indian groups are very common. In London, one of the season’s most successful musicals – ticket reservations have to be made three months in advance – is «Bombay Dreams,» a popular musical built along the lines of Bollywood, India’s cinema industry whose annual film production rivals even that of Hollywood. The figures speak for themselves: 700 films and 900 million viewers. Produced and based on an idea by musical master Andrew Lloyd Weber, «Bombay Dreams» features the traditional structure of Bollywood films, while the industry acts as its backdrop on stage. The story follows Akaash – a young man who dreams of becoming a film star, the lovely Priya, with whom he is in love, and her cunning father, who wants to destroy him. Indian sounds have made a splash in the music industry as well, with a number of songs climbing to the top of world charts. One of the hottest hits in the last few months is «Mundian To Bach Me,» a song which shot to global fame courtesy of an automobile advertisement. It was composed by producer and DJ Panjabi MC, who likes to mix Indian rhythms with hip-hop, garage music and reggae, while in this particular track he incorporated a sample from the theme song of the popular television series «Knight Rider.» Equally popular are the Badmarsh & Shri duo. Born in India but raised in London, the two artists enjoy combining elements of jazz with traditional Indian tunes. On the Greek front, local audiences can get acquainted with Indian music through compilations, such as «The Music of Bollywood,» a recently released album offering World Music fans a representative selection of hit tracks from Indian films from 1971 till today. The event is dedicated to the UNHCR’s World Refugee Day. Ticket reservations can be made at the Hellenic Festival box office, 39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.322.1459. Also Metropolis stores and Ticket Hellas, tel 210.618.9300.